[Retro Review] Conan The Destroyer(1984)

Conan The Destroyer was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Arnold Schwarzegger, Olivia d’Abo, Sarah Douglas, Wilt Chamberlain, Tracey Walter, Grace Jones, and Mako Iwamatsu. The screenplay was penned by Marvel comics writers Roy Thomas, who worked on the first film, and Gerry Conway. The plot sees Conan and his companions on a quest to find a magical horn, per the order of Queen Taramis. He does this under the lie that she can bring his lost love back from the dead.

Fans of the original film will be taken aback and even disappointed with the change in tone. This film was geared to be more of a family friendly fantasy adventure and not the dark opera that was the first film. The action is more toned back, there is no nudity this time around, and more fantasy elements were added. While I really enjoyed the fantastical edge this movie had, it’s a shame it was at the expense of tone.

This movie does get a lot right, Arnold of course is great in the role. The special effects are really good for 1984 apart from a few blue screen shots and some creature designs. The final fight monster of the movie(Played by Andre the Giant) Looks clumsy and it’s obvious how hard it was to work with. The music is solid from returning composer Basil Poledouris, and makes the scenes pop. The cinematography is stunning, shots have a grand feel to them to compliment the fantasy setting.

What I didn’t like was again the shift to a more family friendly tone. The action is scaled back despite a few decapitations. The cast of characters really doesn’t have a whole lot of chemistry together. Most of the characters just kind of show up and don’t really add any substance. The whole story doesn’t do a whole lot to challenge or develop Conan himself, this adventure just feels like just another adventure for him. It would have been cool to finally see him take the steps to becoming king, but they were saving that for the third film I imagine.

This movie can still be a lot of fun but the tone shift will alienate fans of the first movie. The plot is lacking in character work and a reason to keep most of its cast. The action is good however, and the music and cinematography are the real heroes of this movie. Arnold gives it his all in this role and it’s apparent he had fun in the role. This movie is not at all difficult to watch and for those who want fun cheesy fantasy action this may be the movie for you. If you are looking for something more in the way of characters and plot, you have come to the wrong place.